Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, March 9, 2023


 Bad News by Donald E. Westlake  (2001)


That's it.  That's my entire review.  You really don't need anything else to impel (compel?  either word would fit) you to run out and read this book.

You can leave now.  Perhaps go someplace else on the internet and view cat videos.

Once you've said "Dortmunder," you've said it all.  I mean, every right-thinking person this side of Bobo-Dioulasso knows John Dortmunder as the hapless genius criminal mastermind in Donald E. Westlake's comic crime series, just as they know the other members of Dortmunder's criminal gang -- Andy Kelp, Tiny Bulcher, Stan Murch, and Murch's Mom.  No need to explain that this gang, following Dortmunder's finely-honed plans, typically pull off the most outrageous and daring robberies and/or thefts ever attempted, despite the fact that some sort of Cosmic Kismet invariably throws a monkey wrench into the works, often leaving the gang with less than nothing )or, at least, far less than they had planned).

And I certainly don't need to bother saying that everything starts when Dortmunder and Andy Kelp are hired by a rather skeezy pair of ginks to dig up a 70-year-old grave in upstate New York, remove the coffin, and replace it with a coffin from a 70-year-old grave recently dug up in California.  Or that this involves a multi-million dollar scam against a powerful Indian casino,  Or that once you begin digging up graves, you somehow have to keep digging graves and switching coffins until the police post guards around the graves so you can't do the most important grave switching of them all and you have to go through the state's worst snowstorm in decades just to steal some hair from a brush at an (also heavily-guarded) estate-slash-museum somewhat akin to Marjorie Merriweather Post's Hillwood.

I also don't have to point out that the book is funny as hell and completely unpredictable, or that few people were better plotters than Westlake.

Nope.  I don't have to do all that.  All I have to do is repeat my one-word review:




  1. Have tried a couple of these, though not this one. They just never worked for me. I know plenty of folks love them. They just don't appeal to me.

  2. Dortmunder appeals to me so I read the entire series. Wonderful characters and clever plotting. What more can you ask for? Well, on second thought, you could ask for Parker.

    1. George, the first Dortmunder book started out as a Parker, but it kept being too darned funny so Westlake had to create Dortmunder. (Who was named after a German beer Westlake was drinking at the time, I bnelieve.)